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This sentence occurs in Wikipedia:

The method of voting can range from formal submission of written votes, through show of hands, voice voting or audience response systems, to informal noting which outcome seems to be preferred by more people.

informal is a recent change from informally, and I find myself torn over changing it back. noting here is a gerund (a quasi-noun) rather than a participle (a kind of adjective); and so it seems formally to require an adjective rather than an adverb. And yet …

I monitor the cat's health by, among other things, occasionally observing how much water is in his bowl.

… here, occasional observing would feel very wrong.

What do you think?

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  • I note informally that “to noting informal” would be more clearly wrong, but why? Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 18:53
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    Informal is correct; it parallels formal. It’s just that there’s an of missing: from formal submission of notes... to informal noting of which outcome seems to be preferred... Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 23:30

1 Answer 1

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"Informally" is correct, as your example with "occasionally observing" shows. Here "noting" is a gerund, not a verbal noun. Whereas verbal nouns are modified by adjectives, gerunds are modified by adverbs.

Compare this example from Wikipedia:

  1. The rapid erasing of the tape saved our bacon. (Verbal noun)
  2. Rapidly erasing the tape saved our bacon. (Gerund)
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  • Informal is correct. It’s from formal submission to informal noting. If it were informally, it would read from formally submitting to informally noting. Granted there’s an of missing after noting though. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 0:47
  • @TinfoilHat Putting the "of" after "noting" would turn "noting" into a verbal noun, making the adjective "informal" correct. But without that "of," it's a gerund.
    – alphabet
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 1:18
  • Yes, errors of omission can do that to a word. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 2:03

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